Month: August 2016

Hosted Skype for Business: Features and Benefits

Skype for Business Hosting

Skype for Business is a so-called unified communications (UC) platform, server-based software that provides employees with a number of effective ways to communicate and collaborate with each other, and that usually also includes a VoIP/PBX system that’s capable of serving as a business’s primary phone system.

Its benefits include increased employee effectiveness and productivity, increased visibility and control for managers, easier-to-manage and more secure and compliant communications systems, and lower phone bills and reduced travel costs.

Its features include:

  • Instant messaging
  • Presence (a feature that displays the availability of your colleagues—whether they’re available, away, or busy)
  • Audio and video conferencing with up to 10,000 simultaneous participants
  • User-to-user file transferring
  • Screen sharing
  • Application and desktop sharing (which allows multiple users to use the same application or desktop at the same time)
  • PSTN calling (which allows you to call real phone numbers)
  • Built-in PBX, including call forwarding, call waiting, and voicemail
  • Centralized archiving of all instant messages

Skype for Business lets employees stay connected with both colleagues and customers no matter where they’re located or what device they have with them. That’s because they can access Skype for Business from anywhere with any compatible, Internet-connected device, including any Windows or Mac PC, Android, iOS, or Windows Phone mobile device, or VoIP phone.

Skype for Business can be deployed either onsite or in the cloud. Here’s why we would recommend deploying in the cloud:

You may not have to set it up or manage it yourself. Many cloud providers will set up your hosted Skype for Business deployment for you for a small fee, or they’ll at least offer you assistance with the setup process. Many providers also offer managed Skype for Business deployments, which means that they’ll monitor, protect, update, back up, and support them so you don’t have to.

It’s more secure. Cloud providers can afford to protect their hosted solutions with advanced security measures such as enterprise-level firewalls, 24x7x365 monitoring, IDS/IPS, and gateway antivirus, as well as physical security measures at their datacenters such as biometric access panels, closed-circuit video cameras, and server cages.

It’s more reliable. Most cloud providers implement advanced downtime prevention measures such as 24x7x365 system and network monitoring; redundant IT hardware, Internet, and electrical power; geographically-separated datacenters; and uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) and diesel generator power backups.

It’s compliant with regulations like HIPAA and SOX. For an additional fee, cloud providers can customize their hosted solutions so that they’re compliant with IT-related regulations like HIPAA and SOX.

Skype for Business used to be called Microsoft Lync. Microsoft purchased Skype, the popular IM and video conferencing application, in 2011. It rebranded Lync as Skype for Business in 2015 and incorporated Skype’s familiar interface and other features into the software.

To sign up for cloud-hosted Skype for Business, or to migrate an existing onsite deployment of Skype for Business or Microsoft Lync, contact your preferred cloud provider.

The Benefits of Hosted Exchange

Microsoft Exchange Hosting

Microsoft Exchange is a program that you can use to create and manage a professional email system for your business. The email features of Exchange include: creating and managing mailboxes; creating and managing email addresses and aliases; creating and managing user groups; a global address book; setting permissions; setting data retention policies; spam filtering and antimalware; and email server management.

In addition to its email features, Exchange also has some business collaboration features, including scheduling/calendaring and task management.

When configured to be accessed via the Internet, Exchange can be accessed from anywhere with any Internet-connected computer, tablet, smartphone, or thin client. You can access your Exchange-hosted mailbox from a lot of different email clients, though if you want to be able to make use of all of the program’s most advanced email and business collaboration features, you need to access your Exchange account from a version of Microsoft Outlook.

One way to implement Exchange is to install it on a physical server at one of your offices—a so-called onsite deployment. Another way to deploy Exchange, which is also the way that we would recommend to most businesses, is to sign up for hosted Exchange from a hosting company such as IronOrbit.

Here are some of the reasons that we recommend going with a hosted version of Exchange over an onsite version:

It costs less. Hosted Exchange is almost always more cost-efficient than an onsite deployment of Exchange. One reason for this is that hosted Exchange generally requires less hardware and personnel than onsite Exchange. With the hosted version, for example, you share a single physical server with at least one of the hosting company’s other clients, so you only have to pay for the portion of the server that you use; and one of the hosting company’s admins can effectively monitor and manage many different Exchange deployments at once (sometimes as many as hundreds or even thousands at a time), so you only need to pay a small percentage of that admin’s salary. Hosting companies also get bulk discounts on resources such as IT hardware (servers, storage devices, networking equipment, etc.), software, real estate, electrical power, and Internet bandwidth.

It doesn’t require as much work. Hosted Exchange doesn’t require you to purchase of any physical servers or install and set up the Exchange software. Also, if you sign up for managed hosted Exchange, then you also don’t have to worry about monitoring, securing, updating, backing up, or supporting your Exchange deployment, because the hosting provider will do these things for you.

It’s more secure and reliable. Hosted Exchange is generally more secure and reliable than onsite versions of Exchange because hosting companies can afford to implement the most advanced security measures (including 24x7x365 monitoring and incident response, enterprise-level firewalls, gateway antivirus, and IDS/IPS) and downtime and data loss prevention measures (including redundant hardware, Internet, and power, and geographically-separated data backups) and hire the most advanced personnel, which most small-and-medium-sized businesses cannot.

It’s more compliant. Hosted Exchange makes it easier to comply with regulations such as HIPAA and SOX, since it comes with many of the security and downtime and data loss prevention measures required by those regulations, such as firewalls, authentication systems, and antivirus software.